In designing our guide, we took all of these factors into account and simplified things, designing five bundles of online television programing—one of which, we think, will suit just about any type of TV viewer. For each bundle, we show you the price, the projected savings compared to the 2014 average basic cable price of $66.61, and how many additional a la carte TV seasons (estimated $30 per show) you could buy before cable would be more cost-effective.
After 2009, over the air TV signals became digital and old analog tuner TVs stopped working. Did you know that you could still get over the air signals? In fact, you can watch local channels without cable, and they are available free and in a clear beautiful high definition picture. Those signals are bouncing off your house as you read this. If you own a TV sold in the U.S. made after March 1st, 2007, it has a digital tuner as mandated by law.
Not sure if anyone has mentioned this: We pay for standalone high-speed cable Internet service. I connected a digital splitter so that one cable goes to the modem and the other to two TVs in our house. For the price of Internet service, we also get all the over-the air stations (cable quality). These include PBS (5 stations), CBS (2 stations), ABC (3 stations), NBC (3 stations), Fox (2 stations) plus an assortment of other over-the air stations in the 70-100 range–where the local access stations are also located.
Ultimately, your final decision will completely depend on your needs, what services you subscribe to, and how much of a hassle you're willing to deal with. I'm still married to my home-built XBMC box, but I'd have to say the Roku was easily my favorite of the pre-built options. It's insanely cheap, has tons of streaming services, and with the addition of Plex, can even do some basic playing of network files. The Boxee Box was also pretty nice if you're willing to sit and configure it, while the Apple TV and WD TV Live provided great plug-and-play solutions. The Google TV is a bit more of a wild card for those that have specific needs, but provides a lot of configurability and niche apps that the others don't have (or, alternatively, makes a great feature-filled Plex box). Check out the home pages for each device to see more about what they offer and where you can buy your own.
I have the exact same problem as Cara, which just started today. Everything was working perfectly yesterday. All I had to do was plug in my hdmi cable, set my tv to hdmi & I could get video & audio (didn't have to change any settings to get audio). Now today, suddenly, I've got no audio. I didn't make any changes or do anything different b/w last night and today, yet the audio stopped working. I did e/thing Cara did, except her "fix" didn't work for me (ie. changing the default audio to tv in the control panel of my laptop). Even when I "tested" the speakers, the sound came out of the tv, just like it did for Cara. So some setting somewhere got changed w/o my knowledge, I just can't figure out what it is. Ugh. My laptop is a Lenovo ideapad & I have a Vizio smart hdtv if that makes a difference. Can ANYBODY help those of us still having this problem? Please. Thank you
For those fed up with their cable or satellite TV company, there has never been a better time to cut the cord. Streaming video services are giving traditional cable and satellite TV stiff competition by delivering live sports and prime-time TV programming online, often for a drop in price, while premium channels like HBO and Showtime are available as separate streaming services or add-on bundles.
I am not an audiophile by any stretch of the imagination. I just love listening to music while on my (bluetooth-enabled) computer and I was tired of wires getting in my way while wearing headphones. After doing a lot of research on bluetooth headphones, I originally bought another pair of headphones that were advertised as over-ear headphones but were actually on-ear headphones. On-ear headphones do NOT work for me. They hurt my ears and are very uncomfortable to wear.
Also, all of the channels available from any of these cord cutting options are not offered by Comcast. The premium line-ups have to be purchased separately. So, trying to get multiple TVs with full DVR functionality, as well as keeping enough bandwidth for those times when a household is very busy, means not one of these cord cutting choices make any sense. They are over-priced, unless you are a single TV household or live in an area where OTA TV, cable, and phone service is very limited. I hate that Comcast has the upper hand. Verizon was blocked from putting FIOS in my area because I live in Comcast’s backyard. They have all the local politicians in their pocket. These companies like Sling, VUE, and the rest of them, want to see more cord cutting. They need to start putting all the preferred channels in their line-ups and making some offers where packaging premium stations gives a discount. This ala-cart pricing sucks to high heaven. It only benefits those who NEED a cord cutting option. But, it does nothing special for those who are using Comcast.
I just bought Roku box ($99). I also have a dvd player that has the capability to browse netflix, hulu, etc. I have to say that I am dissappointed in Roku. there are hardly any free channels to stream through. Everything is a paid subscription. Also its not live streaming tv, you have to constatnly go through all the episode to select one, which in itself makes watching tv stressfull. I think most people want to watch whats on tv. they want to come home and just see whats on, and space out. Roku and netflix are cheap but certainly do not match up to cable or dish tv. I am very techincal, so finding channels and configuring the boxes was not at all an issue for me. Most of the channels on Roku are paid. There are some free, but that have garbage on it. The free movies are crap, and are rated 1 or 2 stars. I was not able to find any free shows on roku, and the ones i found were horrible, hence they were on roku. I also found some documentries on roku, but who the hell wants to watch that crap. there is also an hunting channel on roku! common, they could do a lot better then that. This weekend I was over a friend’s house and she had cable. Man I miss cable. Yes its more expensive then Roku and netflix, but its a lot better then them. Channels such as discover (the realy discovery), netgeo, hgtv, tnt, tbs, bravo, movie channel, etc are just not on any of these boxes or netflix. the search capability on netflix really sucks, and they keep on removing movies constantly. I have tried, dish, cable, netflix, hulu plus, roku, but i have to say nothing beats cable tv or dish.
TiVo – The granddaddy of DVRs, a TiVo device is great for streaming programs from Netflix, Blockbuster, and Amazon Video On Demand. It connects to your home's TV antenna so you can watch free network programming, and the HD TiVo units will even pick up your local high-definition channels. The drawback is that on top of the price of the device ($200 and up), you'll need a monthly $12 subscription to access TiVo's best features.
OneGuide is one of the core features of the Xbox One, and it integrates cable TV with the console in a single seamless interface. But what if you don't have cable TV? The good news is you're not frozen out, and you can very easily — in certain areas at least — integrate over-the-air (OTA) TV channels into your Xbox One experience with something like the Xbox OTA TV tuner.
Basically, when you go to your xbox and select to view video, you can view video from the xbox’s hard drive (stuff you download from xbox live), or from one of the connected media servers. Playon would be one of the connected media servers (in addition to the built in media server in windows vista -which only has limited streaming capabilities). Does that make sense or did I just muddy the water even more?
Philo ($16/mo. - $20/mo.): This new cut-rate service is cheap for a reason: It eliminates all sports, major networks and premium movie channels, delivering instead what amounts to a stripped-down basic cable package with the likes of History Channel, A&E and TV Land. Philo also has limited DVR storage and can be watched on multiple devices simultaneously. It’s a good starter option for people who want a solid array of traditional cable channels to supplement with subscriptions to Netflix, HBO Now and others.
For vast libraries of movies and TV content prior to the current season, I recommend getting the 30-day free trial to Amazon Prime. Another big reason to get Amazon Prime is the option of adding Showtime and Starz with your subscription. For just $8.99 per month, you have every TV show and movie offered by Starz and Showtime just as if you had the network with a cable provider.
If any of these options think they are worthy to cause one to cut the cord they are all sadly mistaken. Once you add the total cost these options charge, just to get the more highly desirable stations most people expect, you run into limitations: how many devices you can stream simultaneously, how much bandwidth you would need to even maintain stability, and how much more speed you’ll have to pay for with your internet provider to get it. It’s almost as if they are pushing potential cord cutters right back to their cable providers. Not to mention, Comcast/Xfinity, as much as I despise them, gives more reasonable offers for less cost, with anywhere DVR – both local and cloud based.
Philo is one of the newer streaming services to enter the market and it’s also one of the cheapest. The service aims at providing value by carrying entertaining channels without expensive sports programming. One of those channels is AMC. At $16 per month, it is now the most affordable way to watch The Walking Dead without Cable. You can sign up for their free trial or read more about them in our review of Philo.
With the exception of Sling, all five services continue to add local channels in an attempt to sign up viewers. Because most local stations, aka network affiliates, are owned by companies other than one of the big four networks in question, they usually require separate contracts with providers like streaming services, cable systems and satellite networks.
Amazon Prime Video -- The "other" major streaming service, which is included as part of a $99 annual Prime Membership or $9 a month. The interface isn't as user-friendly as Netflix, but the service often offers shows not on Netflix, including originals like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Amazon Prime also has the ability to add channels (HBO, Starz and more), making it a potential one-stop shop.
If you're looking for something with a little more range, the ClearStream 2V is a good place to start. While at first glance the antenna looks like something meant for the roof, it works perfectly fine indoors. In fact, the 2V eliminates some concerns with foliage and building materials that could weaken the signal for other antennas. On the downside, the size can make it a little tricky to figure out where it could go without being a hinderance.
Those who want to see non-British foreign television have ample options, too. In addition to the aforementioned Acorn (which also features programs from Canada and Australia, among other countries), both MHz Choice and Walter Presents have well-curated collections of European series, with a particular emphasis on the many great Scandinavian crime dramas. And the increasingly popular TV coming out of South Korea is available on DramaFever, Viki, and Kocowa.
We interviewed about 20 current and former industry executives and analysts to understand why traditional television has started losing its foothold in America’s living rooms. Some blamed their peers for decisions that made cable too pricey or opened the door to online competition, and many declined to be identified for fear of angering business associates. In reality, almost everyone played a role in jeopardizing the business.
PlayStation Vue is the slickest of all the major streaming TV providers, with a pleasant, evolved interface that is also easy to use. Its DVR is excellent, with unlimited storage and the ability to skip commercials on any show -- although unlike YouTube TV, shows in Vue's DVR are deleted after 28 days. The biggest knock is that it's one of the most expensive basic packages (Hulu is now also $45), but it has fewer channels than any of the Big Five aside from Sling TV, and local channel coverage is less comprehensive, too. You don't need a PlayStation 4 to watch it -- just like the others, Vue has apps for numerous streaming devices including Roku, Apple TV and Fire TV as well as phones and PCs -- but a PS4 is the only way to get its sweet multiscreen view.
We also recommend testing your internet speed at peak streaming hours (between 6 – 10 p.m. weekdays) to determine if your neighborhood struggles under the strain of heavy traffic. For instance, if you routinely get around 10Mbps downloads during the day, but that figure takes a dive to about 3Mbps around dinner time, you’ll want to call your internet provider to see if anything can be done. Fortunately, this is an increasingly rare problem outside of rural areas, but better to check ahead.